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  1. #1
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    inexpensive folding bike for petite woman

    I'm considering a folding bike to improve my public transportation commute. Mostly I would use it for distances of 0-2 miles --- to the subway, on an errand, to the gym, to the other campus --- and I'd like to carry it up and down long staircases and in crowded subway cars, and I'll also have a backpack.

    The problem is that many folding bikes are large and heavy for my height, 5'1" (61", 156 cm). Weight is an issue, too, but I suspect a well-designed shape could compensate for weight. I have also noticed that some folding bikes specify that they can't be used by anyone under 5'4" if they want their feet to touch the ground.

    Can anyone recommend an inexpensive folding bike for me? Any short people who carry their folders on public transit, and can share their experiences?

    I've been toying with the idea of an A-bike, but Chicago has poorly maintained roads and I'd like to hear of some alternatives.

    Btw, it seems like some folding bikes could take advantage of their wheels and be rolled like a luggage cart, but I haven't seen any which do. Do such exist?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Well since you're that small, it would probably be best to get something small and light enough that you can just put in your packpack.

    This one would be a good choice:


  3. #3
    jur
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    Bike617,

    Welcome to the folder forum!

    Ignore the above post - he thinks he's hilarious, an opinion not necessarily shared.

    Folding bikes in general are very adjustable and so can fit quite a large range of people.

    The best thing to do is if possible, go around to a bike shop and see if what they offer is able to be adjusted for yourself.

    Another thing, what amount did you have in mind? Also, which folders have you considered before which were found wanting in their description?
    Last edited by jur; 09-18-07 at 07:21 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yamcha View Post
    Hhmmm..brooks saddle..rear rack....chainguard....fenders! It's ready to go!

    Welcome aboard Bike617!
    I think the DownTube Mini might be the bike for you. Or maybe a Dahon Curve?

    Enjoy the hunt!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Foldable Two's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DVC45 View Post
    I think the DownTube Mini might be the bike for you. Or maybe a Dahon Curve?

    Enjoy the hunt!
    These are good suggestions........

    But............should they not be suitable options, suggest you consider a Bike Friday. It definitely will not be the least expensive option, but it will be built to fit you, and it will last!

    http://www.bikefriday.com/

    You might want to check out the tikit (small size model).

  6. #6
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    "Bike Friday" and "inexpensive folding bike" cannot go together. After suggesting several folding bikes to female friends, I believe you should limit your search to the following bikes:

    Dahon Curve;

    Downtube Mini;

    Strida.

    Keep in mind that the first two are better bikes, but will not stay folded to make your life easy to climb the long stairs you mentioned and are very heavy for your size to carry around.

    The strida, on the other hand, is a less effective bike, with no gears, but for 0-2 miles you mentioned, is a good choice and, once folded, can be rolled. It is also the lightest from all bikes listed so far.

    Good luck on your decision. Let us know what you end up with.

    14R

  7. #7
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    I was going to say Strida also, but the website says minimum rider height is 5'4". Too bad, because it would have been great.

    But I agree with the Mini or Curve. They're great choices.

  8. #8
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    Jz88

    Bike617, consider JZ88, it states here (Bike Chart) that "Rider below 80kg" as disadvantage. But in your case, it may be an advantage.

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    Though the Strida looks cool I highly doubt it would be good to ride for morethan a mile or two max. Also, it's a single speed.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Bike617,
    Folding bikes in general are very adjustable and so can fit quite a large range of people.

    The best thing to do is if possible, go around to a bike shop and see if what they offer is able to be adjusted for yourself.

    Another thing, what amount did you have in mind? Also, which folders have you considered before which were found wanting in their description?
    My major concern is carrying rather than riding the bike. I'm hoping to hear from people who are short like me 5'1" about which bikes work for them in their daily experience over weeks of using a folding bike.

    It seems like most of the bikes in the US are either designed for
    - Men --- most of whom are taller than 5'7" --- carrying them on public transit
    - People transporting them by car and then bicycling.

    As someone who is 5'1" carrying on public transit, I want to hear from others in a similar situation. The six inches that even a small man has on me really makes a big difference when carrying a cumbersome package.

    Most folding bikes are about 32"x24"x12" or greater when folded, which is a huge size for me to carry, so it would really need to be able to roll whenever possible. Ideally it would be more compact than that. I don't have much problem carrying a standard hybrid on stairs because the size is mostly perpendicular to my height. The problem comes when the long end has to be carried vertically because then it starts to matter that it's more than half my height.

    I'm looking for as inexpensive as possible --- I'm a student. At a certain point it becomes more economical just to get a cheap bike to keep at work, even though it might get stolen (my work is in a bad area.)

    On specific bikes:

    JZ88 looks like an excellent suggestion especially since Asians are much shorter than Europeans. I like that it wheels as a trolley when folded and doesn't need to be carried all the time. From the website, it's clear that the designers thought about how it works in daily life, while most bike ads don't show real people carrying them. I haven't found information on buying it in the US, and not sure how much it costs.

    Strida looks like a good option --- I like that it can wheel as a trolley when folded --- but as someone mentioned it's for 5'4" and up. I didn't

    The downtube mini and Dahon curve are a bit smaller than the other folding bikes --- 10" x 20" x 29" and 25 lbs and 13" x 24" x 26", 25 lbs, respectively --- but it looks like they have to be carried the whole time, and doesn't have a trolley mode that it could be wheeled and wouldn't need to be carried on flat surfaces. Still, they might be doable if I didn't have to carry them that far, and could carry them primarily when unfolded and they would therefore wheel. I could just fold them on the platform so that it meets the official guidelines and unfold as soon as I get out and wheel them into my office. I'll look into finding them at a local bike shop. Still, at that point I may as well get a Kent. Which is actually 27" x 24" x 15" and 25 lbs, so comparable to both of those.

    Would love to hear other suggestions, or from people who are my height 5'1" who carry folding bikes on public transit.
    Last edited by bike617; 09-19-07 at 06:16 AM.

  11. #11
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    I'm not 5'1 but my young friend Silas, 8 years old, is way below your height. He finds great pleasure riding his Pacific Carry Me Dual Speed (here I go again singing CM songs, forgive me folks). Here is a pic of Silas with another 5'11 rider on one of our folding bike club rides...

    For more info -
    http://www.pacific-cycles.com/




    OnF

  12. #12
    jur
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    I wonder if a CarryMe might be the perfect bike for your application?
    http://www.pacific-cycles.com/bikeca...andbtn=1&cat=3
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/revie...age=1&nested=0

    Just one caveat, I'm not sure it is fixed-gear?

  13. #13
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    Dahon and Downtube have some bikes with 16" wheels.

    You might be able to find a compact luggage hand truck that you can bring along with you to move it around. The crummy ones are inexpensive and light.
    2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
    Strida 3, I recommend it for rides < 10mi wo steep hills.
    2006 Rowbike 720 Sport, I recommend it as an exercise bike.
    1996 Birdy, Recommend.
    Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike617 View Post
    I'm considering a folding bike to improve my public transportation commute. Mostly I would use it for distances of 0-2 miles --- to the subway, on an errand, to the gym, to the other campus --- and I'd like to carry it up and down long staircases and in crowded subway cars, and I'll also have a backpack.

    The problem is that many folding bikes are large and heavy for my height, 5'1" (61", 156 cm). Weight is an issue, too, but I suspect a well-designed shape could compensate for weight. I have also noticed that some folding bikes specify that they can't be used by anyone under 5'4" if they want their feet to touch the ground.

    Can anyone recommend an inexpensive folding bike for me? Any short people who carry their folders on public transit, and can share their experiences?

    I've been toying with the idea of an A-bike, but Chicago has poorly maintained roads and I'd like to hear of some alternatives.

    Btw, it seems like some folding bikes could take advantage of their wheels and be rolled like a luggage cart, but I haven't seen any which do. Do such exist?

    Thanks!
    The big problem you will face is the "and I'd like to carry it up and down long staircases and in crowded subway cars, and I'll also have a backpack"... you will tire quickly of carring anything up long staircases that exceeds 10lbs by much... your desired distance isn't great, so anything more than a 1 speed wouldn't be needed.. choices in a folding bicycle are about nil as there is a weight penalty with the lightest hovering around 18lbs... I gave my ex (approximately same size as you) a Xootr scooter... she rides the ferry to the City and then rides the Xootr on the Embarcadero in SF (mostly flat) wearing a backpack .. she loves it... certainly not a bike, but easily twice as fast as walking for her ... and, you'll be on the sidewalk, not in the street, so badly maintained Chicago roads aren't a factor, nor cars ... at under 10lbs and the smallest of folds, it's a consideration for you... other than that, if you need to pedal, the CarryMe is the logical choice.

    Last edited by BruceMetras; 09-19-07 at 09:01 AM.

  15. #15
    Señor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike617 View Post
    I'm looking for as inexpensive as possible --- I'm a student. At a certain point it becomes more economical just to get a cheap bike to keep at work, even though it might get stolen (my work is in a bad area.)
    At $500, the Carry Me is not cheap. The Xootr scooter is a great suggestion; the only caution I'd throw in is that, on the sidewalk, it's faster than you think. It's so quiet you sneak up on people easily. On crowded sidewalks, you'll get annoyed because people walk so slow. You will feel bumps in the pavement, though.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike617 View Post
    I'm considering a folding bike to improve my public transportation commute. Mostly I would use it for distances of 0-2 miles --- to the subway, on an errand, to the gym, to the other campus --- and I'd like to carry it up and down long staircases and in crowded subway cars, and I'll also have a backpack.
    Hello - and welcome. Like Jur said - ignore the idiot with the toy bike joke. He has special needs I suspect.

    Anyway - have you taken a look at the Dahon Curve? It has great write ups and is very neat. Folds small too. See if you can get a test ride, like Jur said.

    Good luck and enjoy your bike when you get it.
    “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live." - Mark Twain

  17. #17
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    another vote for the Curve
    you can take fenders and carrier off the d3 model and make it a little lighter .... Th SL version is nice but unfortunately also much more expensive ....

    And although not perfect I can push the Curve kinda balancing it on the rear wheel pretty nicely when you do not push the saddle in all the way ... of course I am biased ..lol

    Thor

  18. #18
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    The Curve and anything from Dahon is all right. I would avoid any of the ones designed in England. They might look interesting but thats about it. You can get a Dahon or Downtube that rides better and a fraction of the price.

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    Your repeated bias (in other threads too) against English products seems ill founded and ill informed.

    Brompton (though it may well not be suited for the particular needs of the poster in this one case) is the standard by which all folding capabilities are measured and compared.

    Moulton is one of the highest performance 'break away/folder' bikes ever made. In fact Certain land speed records attained on it still hold.

    Guess where these bikes were (and are) designed and produced...?
    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html
    My Tweaked and modded Raleigh Twenty. Lots of pictures and lots of general info on for example a different & Cheap Bottom Bracket solution as well as fork solution.

  20. #20
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yamcha View Post
    The Curve and anything from Dahon is all right. I would avoid any of the ones designed in England. They might look interesting but thats about it. You can get a Dahon or Downtube that rides better and a fraction of the price.


    Astonishing that anyone could make such sweeping statements ...

  21. #21
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yamcha View Post
    I would avoid any of the ones designed in England. They might look interesting but thats about it. You can get a Dahon or Downtube that rides better and a fraction of the price.
    As far as I know, most people don't have an english folder because they can't afford one. The only reason I had a Giant, A Dahon, a Merc and a Downtube was because I couldn't afford a Brompton. Most people, not ALL. But that's my perception.

  22. #22
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    You can roll the Downtube Mini while folded. Apparently you can roll the Curve as well.

    See the following:

    http://www.gaerlan.com/bikes/dahonfold/dahonfold.htm

    EDIT: I have taken my Mini on the Metro. I think that it is reasonably sized for most subways. Although in your case, since you are going such a short distance, I would probably go with the scooter.

  23. #23
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike617 View Post
    My major concern is carrying rather than riding the bike. I'm hoping to hear from people who are short like me 5'1" about which bikes work for them in their daily experience over weeks of using a folding bike.

    It seems like most of the bikes in the US are either designed for
    - Men --- most of whom are taller than 5'7" --- carrying them on public transit
    - People transporting them by car and then bicycling.

    As someone who is 5'1" carrying on public transit, I want to hear from others in a similar situation. The six inches that even a small man has on me really makes a big difference when carrying a cumbersome package.

    Most folding bikes are about 32"x24"x12" or greater when folded, which is a huge size for me to carry, so it would really need to be able to roll whenever possible. Ideally it would be more compact than that. I don't have much problem carrying a standard hybrid on stairs because the size is mostly perpendicular to my height. The problem comes when the long end has to be carried vertically because then it starts to matter that it's more than half my height.

    I'm looking for as inexpensive as possible --- I'm a student. At a certain point it becomes more economical just to get a cheap bike to keep at work, even though it might get stolen (my work is in a bad area.)

    On specific bikes:

    JZ88 looks like an excellent suggestion especially since Asians are much shorter than Europeans. I like that it wheels as a trolley when folded and doesn't need to be carried all the time. From the website, it's clear that the designers thought about how it works in daily life, while most bike ads don't show real people carrying them. I haven't found information on buying it in the US, and not sure how much it costs.

    Strida looks like a good option --- I like that it can wheel as a trolley when folded --- but as someone mentioned it's for 5'4" and up. I didn't

    The downtube mini and Dahon curve are a bit smaller than the other folding bikes --- 10" x 20" x 29" and 25 lbs and 13" x 24" x 26", 25 lbs, respectively --- but it looks like they have to be carried the whole time, and doesn't have a trolley mode that it could be wheeled and wouldn't need to be carried on flat surfaces. Still, they might be doable if I didn't have to carry them that far, and could carry them primarily when unfolded and they would therefore wheel. I could just fold them on the platform so that it meets the official guidelines and unfold as soon as I get out and wheel them into my office. I'll look into finding them at a local bike shop. Still, at that point I may as well get a Kent. Which is actually 27" x 24" x 15" and 25 lbs, so comparable to both of those.

    Would love to hear other suggestions, or from people who are my height 5'1" who carry folding bikes on public transit.
    Hello Bike 617 and Welcome To This Forum!

    I am also female, in the same range as to size and fit problems. I once rode road bikes but gave them up because those bikes never seemed to fit me and my needs have changed. I needed a folding bike for theft deterence (I always take the bike with me everywhere, I do not lock it up for any reason). I like the vastly adjustable fit that addresses my fitting needs. I find them very comfortable to ride, unlike the road bikes I had before. I feel so strongly about my now collection of three folding bikes: a Dahon Boardwalk, a Dahon Piccolo, and a Brompton, I now have a series of web sites collectively entitled "The World Of Folding Bicycles." Please stop by and see how these bikes work in my own life. Perhaps it will in yours as well.

    See below for these varied linked sites with text, photos, and even audio for your enjoyment.

    Folder Fanatic
    Webmaster to The World Of Folding Bicycles series

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by v1nce View Post
    Your repeated bias (in other threads too) against English products seems ill founded and ill informed.

    Brompton (though it may well not be suited for the particular needs of the poster in this one case) is the standard by which all folding capabilities are measured and compared.

    Moulton is one of the highest performance 'break away/folder' bikes ever made. In fact Certain land speed records attained on it still hold.

    Guess where these bikes were (and are) designed and produced...?

    What do you mean my repeated bias? Where?

    Though you might like those English bikes, they aren't so hot or practical to me. If I want good engineering and design I don't buy English, I buy Japanese and then German and then American.

    I see no reason for the English to charge 3-4 times more for their bikes.

  25. #25
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    I own a Brompton, Strida (UK), Speed Pro, Speed 8 (US?), BF Tikit (US) & a CM (Taiwan) and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. But to say anything from UK "might look interesting but thats about it" shows how much (or little) you know about folding bikes.

    The Brompton is STILL the tightest folded package. The Strida is 20+ years old and looks like it arrived from the next generation. Its the only grease-less bike I know.

    I agree with you that Dahons represent value for $ but they are not as durable as the english bikes in my experience. Their folding size too is nothing to shout about, even the impressive D3 but their ride is good.

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